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A Skeptic Goes Inside Noah’s Ark

by Michael Shermer, Feb 17 2009
Two Gibbons on Noah’s Ark, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to humans.

Two Gibbons on Noah’s Ark, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to humans.

Evolution and Creationism in England

During the first week of February, 2009, on the occasion of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday celebrations at various locals around England (including his birthplace city of Shrewsbury — see photo montage below), my hosts Andrew Kelly (a science writer who authored a gorgeous coffee-table book entitled Darwin: For the Love of Science) and Bruce Hood (a University of Bristol cognitive psychologist and author of the forthcoming book Supersense), arranged for a visit to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol, run by a kindly creationist gentleman named Anthony Bush. (Yes, in addition to being a zoo for the public to tour, it is a working farm.)

The Manifest of Noah’s Ark, according to its modern day purser, Anthony Bush.

The Manifest of Noah’s Ark, according to its modern day purser, Anthony Bush.

Bush’s warmth and good cheer were appreciated on this blistering cold snowy day, one of the worst witnessed in the UK in decades. As we started our tour Mr. Bush made it clear to me that he did not to be confused with those “loonie American creationists” who think that the earth is only 6,000 years old. No, no, the Earth is much older than that, he proclaimed. “How old do you think it is?” I queried. “Oh, I’ve worked it out to be around 100,000 years old, with Adam and Eve at around 21,000 years old.” No, indeed, there was no confusing Mr. Bush with those nutty American creationists! And what was happening between those two time spans? If I understood Mr. Bush correctly, he believes that between the creation at 100,000 years ago and Adam and Eve 21,000 years ago, there was the pre-Adamite period during which the dinosaurs roamed.

The author and Mr. Anthony Bush, the curator and administrator of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, discuss the differences between apes and humans.

The author and Mr. Anthony Bush, the curator and administrator of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, discuss the differences between apes and humans.

What about all the geological evidence for a much older Earth, I pressed on? All those strata of, say, sandstone, which was once loose sand compressed into solid rock over immense periods of time — how could that possibly happen over thousands instead of millions of years? Those strata are laid down every season, like tree-rings, he explained. Interesting analogy, since we can see trees growing from year to year, but where on earth can we see sand being compressed into stone each year?

Noah’s Ark captain, Anthony Bush, explains to Michael Shermer the recolonization theory, which holds that the modern geographic distribution of species around the globe today all happened after the flood destroyed all life on earth (even the fish drowned?) and Noah released the animal pairs to go forth and multiply.

Noah’s Ark captain, Anthony Bush, explains to Michael Shermer the recolonization theory, which holds that the modern geographic distribution of species around the globe today all happened after the flood destroyed all life on earth (even the fish drowned?) and Noah released the animal pairs to go forth and multiply.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm features educational posters for British school children to read on their tour, including this one showing the lineage of Adam and Eve.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm features educational posters for British school children to read on their tour, including this one showing the lineage of Adam and Eve.

The conversation turned most passionate for Mr. Bush when we arrived at the primate cages, featuring marmosets and gibbons. Standing next to a poster display of the differences between apes and humans (implying that humans are not apes, which we are), Mr. Bush seemed particularly interested (obsessed really) in the sexual differences between us, insisting that humans are the only primates that copulate in the missionary position (he waxed poetic about how the angle of the vagina and the slant of the penis are perfectly positioned for proper penetration (say that three times!) for producing the orgasm, which God created to keep us together in pair bonds (he offered no explanation for why women get multiples and men only one, and I wasn’t about to ask). He added that we are the only primate to have orgasms. I told him about bonobos, whom Frans deWaal describes as a very sexual primate indeed, including copulating in the missionary position and apparently experiencing orgasms (and if not then they sure seem to be having as good a time as we do during sex). Mr. Bush offered no acknowledgement of this fact, but after more sex talk along these lines I finally said something like “you sure are into sex,” to which he responded “what do you expect, I’m a man?” To which I rejoined: “yes, well, Darwinism explains that nicely, thank you.”

The author in front of Darwin's birthplace

The author in front of Darwin's birthplace

If you want to read more about the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, go to:

I haven’t any idea how influential Anthony Bush’s Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is on the school children who are taken there on field trips, but I was most disturbed by the results of a survey just released there (the “Rescuing Darwin Survey” conducted by the polling agency ComRes on behalf of the Theos thinktank) that was given to me by my hosts to prepare me for my talk on evolution and creationism, indicating that half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22 percent preferring creationism or intelligent design as an explanation for how the world came about. In fact, according to this survey, only 25 percent of Britons said that they believe Darwin’s theory of evolution is “definitely true,” while another quarter reported that they think it is “probably true.” These results mirror those found in most surveys of American’s attitudes about evolution, although ours are slightly worse. In England, according to this recent survey, fully half of the 2,060 people questioned were either strongly opposed to the theory of evolution, or confused about it. There are even some Young Earth Creationists in the UK, as the survey found that around 10 percent of Britons believe that God created the world some time in the last 10,000 years.

The author in front of Darwin's school

The author in front of Darwin's school

123 Responses to “A Skeptic Goes Inside Noah’s Ark”

  1. Brian says:

    The angle of the vagina proves that evolution is false? And I thought I had heard everything already. Good grief.

    • Wrong says:

      I heard a funny joke on the subject to some extent on the pseudo-skeptical show Penn & Teller’s: Bullshit! It was something along the lines of “It takes a woman 20 minutes to orgasm, and a man only 2. How could there possibly be an intelligent creator?”

  2. BeerWill says:

    I can’t believe that stuff is in the UK. I thought (or maybe just hoped) that such foolishness was only in the US. I don’t mean people with those sorts of beliefs, but there being somewhere where impressionable school children would actually go for excursions. Please tell me that only a few fundamentalist schools go there.

  3. MadScientist says:

    Thanks for an entertaining article; I hope my sides don’t hurt too much later.

    Is there any information available on that ‘survey’? It seems everyone runs a survey these days and no one cares to do a proper survey – if anything, people doing the survey target their audience to get the results they want rather than get the correct results. I especially loathe TV ‘surveys’ – especially the type aimed at fleecing people silly enough to send text messages in to ‘vote’.

  4. Dedalus1953 says:

    I notice that the “family tree” conveniently omits all the mothers down through the generations. Or were all the Genesis Patriarchs sprung fully formed from their fathers’ foreheads? (Yes we do love alliteration :-))))

  5. Steve Norley says:

    I was born and bred in Bristol and know about this place. What annoys me is that, despite the name of the zoo, the creationist agenda is not immediately obvious and local schools often take their classes there for a day trip. There was a thread about this some time ago over at ( My sister, who still lives in Bristol and who is also an atheist, told me a couple of funny things about the place:

    (Copy/Paste from RD.Net)

    “I suspect that this is the place that my (atheist) sister took her then young sons to many years ago (we hail from Bristol) – I think it was part of a school or cub scout trip or something similar. I remember her telling me that they had a lovely model of Ye Olde Arke with lots of little animal models in it….including dinosaurs!!. This unfortunately prompted such a prolonged giggle fit that she received many a disapproving stare from other visitors.”

    and this from my sis:

    “..I remember the bit about the donkey from my last visit, which must have been 5 or 6 years ago. The kids had all been sitting down for a ‘teaching session’ and looking at lots of different animals. When he brought the donkey in he pointed out, in total seriousness, that the cross shaped mark on its back was there since its ancestor had carried Jesus into Jerusalem.

    As for the ark; it’s quite big; about 6 metres in length if I recall correctly. The dinosaurs in the ark included a couple of T Rex’s – now call me cynical, but how were these controlled and fed for 40 days and nights? What you forgot to mention is the massive chart on the wall tracing the ancestry of the current Royal Family right back to Adam and Eve – all four thousand years of them – I kid you not! I think I laughed at that even more than the dinosaurs! Prince Charles; the result of four thousand years of improvement from the original breeding pair – Adam and Eve must be SO proud!

    There were also displays showing ‘evidence’ of how radio carbon dating is completely inaccurate and how you can ‘create’ an authentic fossil with ordinary bones. They do absolutely believe in the common ancestor theory as well; I learnt about how all modern bovines, ovines, equines etc descend from the original pairs on the ark.”

  6. beckiwithani says:

    How interesting. I knew there were a bunch of fanatical Australian creationists, but didn’t know about the British branch. I thought the Brit’s sense of cynicism was too strong to lead them there … maybe it’s something built into the language? I don’t know of many Spanish, Russian, or Swahili young-earthers. ;)

  7. Wrysmile says:


    I took my son and daughter last year unaware that it was propagating creationist nonsense, they don’t mention the nutty side on the web site, and I thought it was great then you start to notice the little bits and pieces of creationist rubbish, I really couldn’t upset the kids by dragging them out kicking and screaming plus I’d paid already so had to endure. Luckily my children were too young at the time for it to be a problem they spent most of the time on the climbing frame. But I don’t think we’ll be going again anytime soon.

    Apparently one of the male ostriches killed himself in the last couple of weeks by continuously charging at a fence while trying to get to some female emus he could see in another enclosure. Just think what the actual ark must have been like.

  8. catgirl says:

    “angle of the vagina and the slant of the penis are perfectly positioned for proper penetration for producing the orgasm”

    He doesn’t seem to know much about female orgasms. Most women need more than just intercourse in the missionary position to achieve it. This is why there is foreplay, products to help, and even whole sitcom episodes about faking it. I wonder if he doesn’t realize this, or if he only thinks that male orgasms count.

  9. Interesting. Did he also have a display discussing the difference between canids and Welsh Corgis?

  10. Billy says:

    Angle and slant work out perfectly? This guy needs to get more creative in the bedroom. He’s (his wife, too) missing out.

    Waheyyy! I went there.

  11. Patrick says:

    wow, I think I saw these guys in Bath, England in 2000. It was the first time I ever learned about Creationists. They gave a presentation on the High street. Strangely enough, I think they convinced a few people of their beliefs. After they were done, some people were following them back to their car. How sad I thought.

  12. Kenny G says:


    I encourage you to challenge old-earth creationist Dr. Hugh Ross to debate.

    Unlike most creationists, he is well educated and articulate. It would be interesting to hear a genuine peer-to-peer discussion on origins.

  13. Henk de Boer says:

    Some people indeed do believe (very) weird things. Even here in The Netherlands we had a Secretary of Education (not a very bright one though) who proposed a public discussion on the ‘interesting’ subject of Intelligent Design. I emailed her that from my experience with my hurting knees I rather speak about ‘Stupid Design’, if design it was. Even a rather mediocre engineer would have been ashamed of it

  14. Hari Kumar says:

    I had a classmate during my Engineering graduation, who believed that god created earth in the last 4000 years, and vehemently opposed all those dating techniques calling it as erroneous. Even today, many of my friends still very reluctantly accept evolution but still firmly believe that the first single celled living organism was created by God. Even after 150 years of Origin of species, millions still prefer to live in the middle ages.

  15. Nihilodei says:

    So let me get this straight… Noah built the love boat 10000 years ago.. the chimps and bonobos really got it on and human men got a lot of lectures..

    It all makes perfect sense to me if you explain how Mrs Noah let that tidbit out for her farthest offspring to explain.. Apparently sumerian women were shy…Not that you would ask gilgamesh

  16. sonic says:

    I wonder if you know about dating techniques.
    One question that I can’t get answered (and I hope I’m just missing an obvious reference)-
    If we use uranium to date- OK, we can get a good estimate of the half-life. We can then use that to determine the age of a sample- close enough.
    But where does pure uranium come from? And how did any of the uranium get on Earth? And was it pure when it got here?
    These questions bother me.

  17. Oonga Boonga says:

    Which all goes to prove that we bonobos are advanced humans gone bush, or maybe humans are degenerate bonobos. Whatever, where’s the party? Oooo oooo oooo.

  18. BillyJoe says:

    I wouldn’t ask uranium on a date if I was you.

  19. Thomas Zychowski says:

    Back into the dark ages we go.

    When the civilized society became tolerant of the intolerant we ourselves became intolerant. We have nobody to blame but ourselves as we fail to speak out against such stupidity.

    The idiots rule the world, brace yourselves.

  20. Yiannis Mantheakis says:

    I always suspected that cartoons messed up people’s minds. Imagine adults still believing in creation!
    Creationism is basically Cartoon physics!

  21. Fred Blogs says:

    Well now!

    The most competent swindlers are very pleasant, caring, dynamic people.

    And this charming fellow has quite an investment in a setup that you have to PAY to see.

    But it is quite impossible to determine if he is a serious twit, or just quietly laughing at us all when on his way to the bank!

    It is good be a Skeptic. Can save you time and money!!

  22. Geoff Browne says:

    Creationists are trying to pass off the Noah’s Ark story as science? Any point in reporting them to the Trading Standards Authority?

  23. Barrie Davis says:

    I always wonder why it is that Creationists are so keen to make tangible exhibits of their beliefs… museums and so forth. Is it because they find abstract thought so very hard, and can’t believe anything at all until they can touch it..?? Indeed, it doesn’t seem to be ‘God’ that they worship so much, as THE BIBLE they can pick up and wave in my face. And here at the farm there’s the poster neatly detailing “30 differences between apes and men” as if the reality of the poster somehow makes the ideas credible too… (shrugs)

  24. Infomancer says:

    @ Sonic:

    Any Uranium on earth, along with all other elements heavier then iron, is the result of an supernova.
    Allow me to be a bit lazy here and just quote from wikipedia (yeah, I know, wikipedia ;-) ):

    These injected elements ultimately enrich the molecular clouds that are the sites of star formation.[81] Thus, each stellar generation has a slightly different composition, going from an almost pure mixture of hydrogen and helium to a more metal-rich composition. Supernovae are the dominant mechanism for distributing these heavier elements, which are formed in a star during its period of nuclear fusion, throughout space. The different abundances of elements in the material that forms a star have important influences on the star’s life, and may decisively influence the possibility of having planets orbiting it.

    The kinetic energy of an expanding supernova remnant can trigger star formation due to compression of nearby, dense molecular clouds in space.[82] The increase in turbulent pressure can also prevent star formation if the cloud is unable to lose the excess energy.[8]

    The remnant of a supernova explosion consists of a compact object and a rapidly expanding shock wave of material. This cloud of material sweeps up the surrounding interstellar medium during a free expansion phase, which can last for up to two centuries. The wave then gradually undergoes a period of adiabatic expansion, and will slowly cool and mix with the surrounding interstellar medium over a period of about 10,000 years.[80]

    “In standard astronomy, the Big Bang produced hydrogen, helium, and traces of lithium, while all heavier elements are synthesized in stars and supernovae. Supernovae tend to enrich the surrounding interstellar medium with metals, which for astronomers means all of the elements other than hydrogen and helium and is a different definition than that used in chemistry.
    Evidence from daughter products of short-lived radioactive isotopes shows that a nearby supernova helped determine the composition of the Solar System 4.5 billion years ago, and may even have triggered the formation of this system.[83] Supernova production of heavy elements over astronomic periods of time ultimately made the chemistry of life on Earth possible.”

    But oops, I just noticed: thats quite impossible since earth is just a few thousand years old. At least according to some middle eastern goat herders I recently heard being quoted. Silly me ;-)

  25. I like to say I don’t “believe” the theory of evolution, but accept it as the best scientific explanation for the origin of the great variety of life on earth today and the even greater variety of life shown by the fossil record; just as I accept the theory of plate tectonics as the best scientific explanation for the current configuration of the earth’s surface.

  26. Skepticus says:

    I find it amazing that in this day and age, when we are surrounded by the trappings of a modern technologically advanced civilization, so many otherwise rational people choose to believe in outlandish fairy tales. What is wrong with these people?

  27. Sam Nettles says:

    Who else but God would tell the kids that he did something in a couple days when it took billions of years???? :)

  28. Emily Perl Kingsley says:

    So many questions conveniently left unanswered….it’s ridiculous!

    The first, most obvious, is – where did Cain’s wife come from? If there was Adam and Eve, then Cain and Abel. Abel killed Cain … then went off and “knew his wife” and started a whole new line of people. Where did she come from? So silly!

    Re the Ark: besides not having room for the hundreds of millions of species which we know to exist, how about this: When Noah presumably released the pairs of animals, the first thing many of them would have done would have been to eat something. In the case of the lions and tigers (and bears) (oh my), that probably would have been one of the gazelles – making it impossible for that pair of gazelles to procreate. Etc. etc. etc. Birds would eat the insects. Hawks would eat the mice. It’s just nature. They’d be hungry after 40 days on the boat. That would seriously reduce the number of intact pairs who could go and repopulate the earth.

    It’s just all so silly. It’s hard to believe that rational people could take all this seriously. It doesn’t hold up to the simplest logical scrutiny.

  29. dead yeti says:

    can i dispute those figures for the brits beliving in evolution or not ‘ was not that actual question asked – Q Theistic evolution is the idea that evolution is the means that God
    used for the creation of all living things on earth. In your opinion is Theistic evolution:

  30. Emily Perl Kingsley says:

    Also, I presume these dodos also believe that the descendants of Noah and his three sons (the only people left alive after the Flood) managed, with whatever means of travel was popular in those days, to go to the far ends of the Earth and become Asians, Africans, Native Americans, Europeans, whatever.

    I often wonder how they answer these simple logical questions within their goofy construct!

  31. Sympneology says:

    The problem with creationists pushing the Noah’s Ark flood story is that it discredits all serious research into flood myths, such as the Indian version of Manu and the Seven Sages rescuing the seeds of civilization from the Ganges delta in a boat which eventually landed in the Himalayas. Sir Leonard Woolley proved that there was a catastrophic flood in the Persian Gulf, which was probably the origin of the myths of Utnapishtim and Noah, but scientists are too busy rubbishing the likes of Andrew Bush to take his research any further.

  32. Evil Penevil says:

    I remember discussing the idea that God created the earth in just seven days with some other children when I was in second grade (50 years ago). An old boy who overheard the conversation explained it this way, “Days were a hell of a lot longer then than they are now.”

  33. Richard Baldwin says:

    thanks D-Notice for clearing up the disingenuous use of polls numbers by Theos, but Kenny G, wake up and smell the real science! Time is ticking away and you are already 150 years behind current scientific evidence!

  34. Jim Johnson says:

    What did the carnivours on the Ark eat? That’s kinda obvious isn’t it. They ate the species that went extinct about that time. (If you think I’m serious then you deserve to believe it!)

  35. RockDoctorJ says:

    Radiometric dating is not confined to simply uranium, but includes numerous other radioactive elements including 40-Potassium, 147-Samarium, and numerous products in the U-Pb series. The methodology of the dating technique goes something like this:

    The uranium (and other elements) used for dating does not occur as pure metallic uranium. To my knowledge, no pure metallic uranium has been found to occur naturally on Earth. Instead, uranium occurs as specific mineral species (e.g. Uraninite, Pitchblende, etc.) that contain uranium. Uranium also occurs as a trace element in other mineral species.

    This trace occurrence is possible because every mineral species has a specific chemical makeup that is predictable. However, from time to time an atom of some other element substitutes into the species, commonly because the atom is about the right size and charge to fit. Because minerals are formed literally from 10’s of millions of atoms, a low substitution rate can still result in 1000’s of radioactive atoms substituting into the mineral lattice.

    Once the mineral cools, atoms are no longer able to move into or out of the crystal. At this point (alternatively called the blocking temperature or the Curie point), the amount of radioactive material in the mineral is fixed, and as those atoms decay, they begin to become daughter atoms. In the case of uranium (parent material or P), the end product is lead (daughter material, or D). So, if we can analyze the mineral crystals for the presence of Uranium and Lead, we can work out the ratio of the two. This ratio can be used to determine the time at which the mineral crystal formed. The mathematics is simple (P/(P+D)) = 1/2 raised to the nth power. In this case, the ‘n’ is the number of half-lives that have passed. We can measure the half-life and simple multiplication then gives us an age.

    In reality the process can be more complicated. Some minerals crystallize with both parent and daughter product already present so we must determine the original ratio (which we can do), we have to be sure that neither parents nor daughters have escaped (again, something we can do), and we need to be sure that the mineral in question has not been exposed to pressure-temperature conditions that would reset the radiometric clock (yet again-something we can do).

    If those conditions are met, we can produce a very accurate estimation of number of years that have passed since the mineral crystallized.

    In the case of radiocarbon dating, the principles are the same, but carbon is being sequestered in tissue, rather than in mineral crystals.

    I hope this has been of some help to you Sonic.


  36. Mrs. Gupta says:

    Goodness, I KNOW that dinosaurs and man co-existed at the same time (could they possibly coexist at different times? Ergo- proof by syllogism!) because-

    BECAUSE I have indeed read the comic strip BC, and I know that the cartoonist Johnny Hart, as a great American, could not lie!

    Why does not this nice Mr. Shermer read some of our Vedic scriptures, and realize that all of us are brothers, even if some of us are wrong and should be burnt in hell?

    Oh my, so much I could discuss here!

  37. H. Kameya says:

    I thought that “young earth” creationists would just die off in a couple of generations….maybe their lifetime is a tad bit longer due to their evolving theories…..

  38. Darryl Britt says:

    Adam is walking around The Garden of Eden and comes across God. He’s a little suprised and asks, “God, what are you doing here in the Garden?”

    “I am here to bestow gifts upon my children.”

    “Gifts? What kind of gift?”

    “You know, gifts. Like the ability to pee standing up.”

    “Oh, wow,” Adam says loudly, “I want that one. Please give me that one.”

    “Very well, my son, it is yours.”

    Later that day Adam runs across Eve. He is still quite excited and asks Eve if she ran into God. “Why, yes I did.” Eve replied.

    “And did he tell you he came down here to bestow gifts upon us?”

    “Yes, as a matter of fact He did.”

    “I got the ability to pee standing up. What did you get?”

    “Multiple orgasms!!!”

    Now you know how creationist explain that…

  39. Kristin Kest says:

    I live in a town just a few miles outside of Dover, PA, where a couple of years ago the science curriculum was being threatened by the school board who wanted to add Intelligent Design (creationism disguised) into the mix next to the real science of evolutionary theory. (I wasn’t a subscriber to Skeptic then, so forgive me if I rehash stuff you might already know…But for those newbies: )

    Thankfully, the parents, teachers and local college professors responded angrily and pulled their efforts together to fight this ridiculousness. The parents sued the Board; science teachers quit on principle; and local professors challenged Dr. Behe, (the leading author of “irreducible complexity,” one core tenet behind intelligent design) on programs hosted by local PBS stations. Those parents who were on one side of the fence or the other, or who were oblivious to the problem within their kids’ education, had to take a crash course on science and pseudoscience in order to make a sound decision on it.

    Needless to say, the rational side trounced them in the argument and the creationists went scurrying. Happily, the parents won their suit against the Board, and creationism was thrown out of court and classrooms in PA. The board members promptly lost reelection, and students went back to learning real science.

    It is also heartening that as you enter Dover from the north on rte 74, someone has (very recently– since the begining of February 09) put up a medium-sized billboard that reads: “In Praise of Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief.”

    Take courage, dear friends; good things are happening– even here in Dover, PA.

  40. Capt T says:

    The traditional flood story runs into some contradiction at the Great Basin National Park where they have living Bristlecone Pines that apparently survived underwater for 40 days. They are very hardy trees…

  41. Kristin Kest says: The Freedom From Religion Foundation. They’ve put several other billboards up over the country, notably in places where evolution has been challenged in landmark trials.

  42. DonB says:

    It seems rather silly to even comment on such nonsense as this man’s Noah’s Ark Museum, but I take issue with the angle of the vagina thing. More proof of our animal nature: the angle of the vagina and that of the erect penis are perfect for rear-entry penetration, just like most of our beastly ancestors.

  43. J.P. McLaughlin says:

    And here I thought that America had a corner on the nut-case market. It’s good to hear that jolly old England is still in there swinging. Gee, that must be why they call it “the missionary position.”

  44. Larry says:

    One day at lunch with several people at the faculty club, the anthropology prof pointed out that the anteriad rotation of the vagina in humans is a necessary consequence of the evolution of bipedality. Being fast on my feet in those days, I commented that this proved that the most highly evolved humans are missionaries.

  45. Konrad says:

    I Just don’t get the Noah’s theory. Wouldn’t it take four of each species to prevent interbreeding? I hardly ever see this brought up.

  46. Paul in Denver says:

    Humans are apes?? My understanding of the genetics is that Humans branched off from the primate ancestor BEFORE the ape branch.

  47. Greg says:


    It is the theory of EVOLUTION, which Darwin first established but has been expanded on a great deal by a load of scientists over the last 150 years. By calling it Darwinism you fall into the trap Creationists/ID folks have laid to portray Evolution as a cult of personality around Darwin. By doing this they can say that believing in “his” theory is no different then believing in “God’s”, and therefor should be treated the same.

    So stop calling it Darwinism because it’s not about Darwin, it’s about science, the science of evolution.

    Thank you.

    • Henk van der Gaast says:

      Hear! Hear! it’s silly to call it darwinism. Look at the trouble we got into with brownian motion.

      Thanx Greg, I still have problems de-lamarkianing people who think animals adapt.. giraffes with longer necks etc.

  48. Paul Beaird says:

    Is it more rational to believe that humans evolved from a common ancestor with the great apes or that there are talking snakes, fruit that can give one moral knowledge and that Cain married a “distant” sister?

    • Wrong says:

      She could only be distant spacially. With only two people (Adam and Eve) to bear the woman who could be his wife, there’d be a lot of incest before humanity came along.

  49. Paban in Guwahati India says:

    How funny it is to learn that about 50% of the people
    of the country of Darwin, Newton still believe in
    creationism? What the science educators in these
    countries are doing? What will we do in a country
    like India where even the literacy is so low? The
    danger from the creationist is no less than the danger
    from the terrorists for the survival of our

    • Wrong says:

      Neither of these pose a significant threat. Terrorists are not dangerous to civilisation: By nature, their attacks are small and horrifying. Creationists are deluded and wrong, but even if we went back to the stupidity of believing the bible as absolute truth, it still wouldn’t undoe our technology and society. Eventually we’d find our way out. It’s not a significant threat, but it is one we’d like to fight.

      And also, Science Educators have an uphill battle educating the religious: Most religious children were born into faith, and indoctrinated.

  50. Rcreative1 says:

    Most people don’t need science to get by day to day, but they do need a worldview to feel OK, so they end up believing nonsense. Mostly it doesn’t hurt them except when they get taken in by snake oil salesmen, healers and religion.

    • Wrong says:

      I disagree. I hear that a lot, “Some people need it.” Bullshit. It’s not needed. The people saying that have faith, and they’re the idiots who believe an atheist can’t have morality.
      Here’s the thing: By seperating my wordview from the irrational, I can:
      Not murder adulterous women.
      Not murder non-virgin wives.
      Not murder unruly children.

      And visit strip clubs. That’s also a plus. The religious nonsense doesn’t have a good rationale, since it will always do some harm that will either be corrected immediately or ignored, whether it be fundamentalist nonsense, or sexually frustrated christians who can’t act in the way they see fit.

  51. Chuck Coverly says:

    I found myself laughing out loud a few times while reading this. Kudos to Dr. Shermer for “going into the lion’s den” with a straight face. not quite sure I could have done it.

    The problem here is that, when I see this kind of dumbing down of our species, I usually want to cry for humanity. I’m glad that Dr. Shermer brought some levity to the subject. If it weren’t for the obvious humor to be found, we would all be crying about this.

  52. Chuck Coverly says:

    Paul from Denver said:
    “Humans are apes?? My understanding of the genetics is that Humans branched off from the primate ancestor BEFORE the ape branch.”

    We ARE apes. We’re the naked ones. Humans are more closely related to chimps than gorillas are. Not only are chimps OUR closest living relatives, we are theirs.

  53. Yobro says:

    I, too am a skeptic in that I do not believe in life after death. However, I wonder how birds know how to build nests? I’m not aware that their parents teach them how to.

  54. devora says:

    I know this goes against biology nomenclature, but how’s about we all stop using the word “theory” when discussing evolution? You have no idea how much time I devote to explaining this! I’ve had science teachers (s*c*i*e*n*e!!) snip, “It’s still just a ‘theory’ so we have to show all sides.”

    Let’s rename the dang thing so I can get some rest. The Law of Evolution? The Truth of Species Selection as Shown Thru Multiple Orgasm?

    • Henk van der Gaast says:

      That’s easy too… it’s a theory because it ties, observation, experiment and laws.

      You should correct your detractors and say “yes its a theory for a very good reason; another better theory may come along”.

      The posit of your detractor can be cut off at the knees by saying, “ok if you think its “only a theory” what would you call an overarching body of thought that’s not brought around in a dirty action novel that the scribes copied to the bible in 570BCE?”

      You can’t help dealing with people who are illiterate as far as words like “theory” are used in science. A good give away is the animal skins and walking everywhere to forage for food.

      If they can’t handle science, will not accept science and detract science, it’s fine by me. But wouldn’t it be edifying seeing them all back up in the fruit trees snarling at us as we drive our fuel efficient vehicles past with the digital radio blaring?

      I’ve even told my creationist relative to strip and wait for a feckless rabbit to wander aimlessly within her grasp.. and frankly, that aint going to even happen!!

      I’d say, follow my school of thought; “the greatest favour you can do for anyone is to insult their intelligence”. There is a caveat; “the opportunity for insulting someone’s intelligence hardly ever arises”.

      Practice this on teenagers. It’s mutually beneficial!

    • Wrong says:

      They used to be called laws. Then people looked like assholes when they weren’t perfect. Then we called them theories. The problem is, people don’t understand the difference between a theory and a hypothesis.

      Better yet, when they say that they have to look at both, ask them if they believe in something nonsensical. When they say no, ask why. When they say there’s no proof, that’s exactly what they can see with creation. Creation has little supporting evidence, compared with the supporting evidence for evolution by natural selection, which has actually gained evidence as it proves predictions.

  55. Doug says:

    Paul from Denver has a point. Whenever a creationist says “I don’t believe humans evolved from apes,” evolutionists say “That’s a common misunderstanding. We didn’t evolve from apes; apes and humans had a common ancestor.” Then scientists write books with titles like THE NAKED APE, THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE, etc., stating that we are, or did evolve from, apes. Did we or didn’t we? Pick a side!

  56. MadScientist says:


    Uranium doesn’t have to be pure or have a specific isotope ratio or anything like that. In the case of uranium, the daughter products are examined along with the uranium. Go read some books about isotope dating.

  57. RockDoctorJ says:

    I rail on this all of the time in my introductory science courses. A theory is the highest degree of scientific acceptance. The common usage of theory has diluted it to the point that what most people call theories are actually hypotheses: tentative, testable explanations for a series of observations or events. To be a scientific hypothesis, an explanation must be potentially falsifiable. This is where creationsim and intelligent design fail. Anything that cannot be explained is merely ascribed to some designer we can’t identify or understand. A theory, on the other hand, unites a body of facts, laws, and hypotheses into a coherent framework that is capable of providing an explanation of those facts and providing predictions about outcomes (future fossil finds, genetic variability, etc.). In this context, the Theory of Evolution is probably the best supported of modern theories, likely better supported than gravity (who has ever seen a graviton), plate tectonics (how are those pesky plates driven to movement), and even Einstenian relativity (though that is gaining ground).

  58. SDR says:

    Calm down, Greg. It is, in fact “Darwinism,” when we discuss the evolutionary theories of Darwin, some of which still hold true. Or more correctly, “neo-Darwinism” when discussing modern modified theory based on Darwin’s original. Just because creationists use the term “Darwinism” against us doesn’t make it any less legitimate of a term. Many respected evolutionary biologists see at as a fine term to use.

    • Wrong says:

      No, it isn’t. You could describe the applications of Darwin’s methods “Darwinian”, like Newtonian Physics. But we don’t call macrophysics “Newtonianism”. Only people who want to begin character attacks and claims of faith on the part of the scientist do this. More to the point, Neo-Darwinism isn’t the only model of evolution, there are others which vary on some of the details.

  59. Max says:


    Paul was wrong. Humans are apes.

    Here’s the family tree of apes.

    Short descriptions of each level:

  60. KenF says:

    I too would like to see the word “theory” dropped in reference to evolution. I’m sick of people saying “it’s just a theory”.

    • Wrong says:

      It is a theory. People need to realise that Theory means that as far as science is concerned, it’s correct.
      What they think of, is a hypothesis.
      Just because the “Great Unwashed” (I love that phrase) don’t understand the terminology doesn’t make the terminology wrong. It makes them ignorant. The best cure for ignorance is information. Tell them what a theory is, and then you’re done.

  61. Max says:

    Alfred Russel Wallace’s 1889 book is titled “Darwinism”.

    But Darwinism wasn’t the only theory of evolution. Lamarckism was another one.

    Likewise, Creationism isn’t the only type of intelligent design. Panspermia is another one.

    It’s silly to refer to a group by the name of one of its members. You wouldn’t say “Mars” when you mean “planet”.

  62. Stacy Kennedy says:

    Doug (#56)

    Humans did not evolve from any living primate species. But we are closely related to the other great apes (gorillas, bonobos, chimps and orangutans).

    Lions did not evolve from tigers; they had a common ancestor. But they are both members of the genus Panthera. (The great apes actually belong to different genera, but you see the point.)

  63. Max says:

    The great apes are a family, not a genus.

  64. Contrarian says:

    I came to the conclusion many years ago that most homo sapiens are dumber than crap and unable to think rationally. These same humans are largely incapable of self-governance and this is the reason for the horror stories of human history. The fascination with “creation myths” is a reflection of this. You waste your breath trying to persuade or argue rationally with people like Anthony Bush. Fortunately, there is enough critical mass of rational people to make progress possible, but it is a difficult task.

    • Wrong says:

      Such a shame that that progress comes by arguing, and refuting those people who talking to is a “waste [of] breath”. If anti science movements get enough momentum, then it needs to be refuted, and the members need to be told what’s right. I can attest to the use of people like Dawkins and Hitchens in making me give up my faith. It’s a task which may seem daunting, but to give up for want of a perfect solution is not only pathetic, but it’s fallacious as well.

  65. Jeff says:

    What shocked me most was that the polling of people in the UK was as bad as it is here in the US. I really took comfort in the idea that we were the only ones who were so ignorant.

  66. KanD says:

    KenF – I understand your frustration, but the solution is for EVERYONE to receive a foundational scientific education so that “thinking scientifically” is default and such terms can be used correctly in context. Educated persons must know the definitions and the contexts – we should not have to unlearn the term.

  67. Mastriani says:

    To which I rejoined: “yes, well, Darwinism explains that nicely, thank you.”

    LOL, well done. I’d like to say the article is interesting outside of the author’s commentary about the site, but alas, it seems to be the same old same old from the Creationist camp gone zoo. Highly comedic, none the less.

    Gads, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  68. Contrarian says:

    KenF- I think that belief in God (the Supernatural) and submissiveness to authority are products of human evolution, thus Darwinian. These traits probably had selective benefits giving these humans a reproductive advantage. If that is the case, then “scientific education” will not automatically produce a rational attitude towards evolution.

    • Wrong says:

      Prove it. You’ve just made a hypothetical argument based on an untested and unproven hypothesis. Now, some evidence may suggest we’re hard wired to believe, but that doesn’t connotote a selective advantage. More to the point, you can’t make a conclusion without a proper premise.
      Scientific education is the best we can do. We don’t have to necessarily win. If we can at least take out the stupid (Evolution is just a theory, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING, The Watchmaker) then we’re left with only the hopelessly deluded. By educating the people, you reduce those who can be easily convinced of irrational concepts,

  69. Ron Cowin says:

    This place sounds more like a Monty Python rest home. And almost as humorous. For those who believe in Intellegent design, they never had a prostate condition. One thing Darwin did have wrong: when it comes to humans, it is survival of the stupid.

  70. Mike Duckworth says:

    As a 43year old educated in the UK with a state education I can clearly recall studying Darwinnian theory in Science lessons. The sad thing is that the majority of the people in the survey have been through a similar education process, but are actively choosing to ignore the evidence that exists. In many ways I feel that they do this because this is the “easier” option as it avoids causing offence and conflict. Unfortunately in the UK some subjects appear to have become taboo in open discussion, religion being one of them. Children and adults are repeatedly being told that they have to be equally considerate towards all opinions because of differences in “culture and religion”, irrespective of whether these opinions are supported by scientific data, or just made up.

    • Wrong says:

      I like how when I talk about Religion being wrong, then I’m the asshole. But when a pious jackass talks, he’s peace and love. Well, I’ve had enough of it- What’s that Atheist saying? “Science flies you to the moon. Faith flies you into a building.”

  71. John says:

    Like many straight men, this Bush guy is woefully ignorant of the variety of human penises. Perhaps one day we’ll see a performance of “The Penis Monologues,” and they’ll all realize that penises come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, many actually pointing DOWN, not up. So that pretty much destroys his perfect orgasm position theory.

  72. opinionated old fart says:

    Further proof that humans evolved from a bunch of monkeys and modern humans evolved from creationists.

  73. Mastriani says:

    In many ways I feel that they do this because this is the “easier” option as it avoids causing offence and conflict. Unfortunately in the UK some subjects appear to have become taboo in open discussion, religion being one of them.

    I have a close friend, (who is likely the most brilliant mind I know), who is a British expat now living in Turkey.

    He concurs with your position, no matter how woefully. He hasn’t stated directly, but this is very likely a large part of his leaving the home country.

  74. Baka says:

    As an evolutionary biologist specializing in the study of the genomes of primates, the confusion around “humans didn’t come from apes” always irks me. Of course, defenders if science are always quick to correct creationists when they start spouting drivel about “humans didn’t come from apes”. But, somewhere along the line, the odd notion crept into the anti-creationism movement that humans are somehow a separate lineage from apes within the primate tree. This simply isn’t so.

    Our closest relatives are the chimpanzees and bonobos. After that, we and chimps are equally related to the gorillas. Beyond them, our histories meet up with the orangutans. That set make up the “great apes”. Add the gibbons into the mix and you have the “apes”. Going back even further, we find the junction of our lineage with first the Old World Monkeys and then the New World Monkeys. I could go on, but the point is, we humans are deeply nested inside the group called “apes”. The same can be said for the labels “monkey”, “primate”, and, of course, “mammal” and “animal”.

    The proper response to creationists, in my opinion, is to point out that while we didn’t evolve from any extant (currently living) species of apes or monkeys, the currently living ones and we had a common ancestor, which is now extinct. And, while this ancestor is not the same as any living primate, it was most certainly a primate (or “monkey”, or “ape”, depending on what level of the tree you’re talking about).

    Sorry for the long comment, I just always have to tilt my head to the side when I see an evolution defender confuse “we didn’t evolve from modern apes” with “we didn’t evolve from apes”. Good post, Michael. Thanks.

  75. E T Fone-Homme says:

    How do they explain Australian animals? Kangaroos can travel large distances, and can swim across lakes, but I doubt they could travel all the way to the Middle East. What did the koalas eat? They will only eat fresh gum leaves off the branch, fom certain sorts of eucalypts. Where did Noah get these from? And if there were two of every “kind”, what about the monotremes – the platypus and the echinda. They occupy a genus all of their own – warm-blooded, fur bearing, lactating egg-laying animals. And they are not very closely related to each other. Was there platypusses AND echindas on the Ark? Or did one of them evolve out of the other? And how did they get from Australia to Turkey and back again?

  76. Peter says:

    Michael, pity you couldn’t make it to The Netherlands. A Dutch building contractor (and young earth creationist) named Johan Huibers built a replica of Noah’s Ark with his own hands. Unfortunately it’s only 70 ‘cubits’ long, 9,5 cubits wide and nearly 13 cubits high (half of the original length of Noah’s Ark), but still impressive:

    The builder of the ark is now spreading 6 million anti-Darwin leaflets in The Netherlands, one for each household.


  77. Clover says:

    Ah, the platypus! You’ve got to wonder what any god was smoking when s/he made that…

  78. Spiritfist says:

    “angle of the vagina and the slant of the penis are perfectly positioned for proper penetration for producing the orgasm”

    I dont know, he may have something here. Did anyone here see the Kirk Cameron show “Way of the Master” where Kirk and his partner show evidence of Intelligent Design because of how easily a banana fits into a humnans mouth? (i am not joking), This theory and the vaginal theory seems to be a “convergence of evidence” if you ask me.

    • Wrong says:

      Well, that’s a shame. Since the BANANA is a genetically modified, specially bred food, created BY HUMANS. The Banana is not a natural occurence: We forced it to. So that puts paid to that one. Moreover-that could prove anything. It doesn’t mean god, it doesn’t mean his god. I could use it as proof we should eat bananas and nothing else (Stupid) I could use it to try to convert you all to vegetarianism. I could use it to say that Bananas created US to eat THEM. As far as an observation goes, it’s far from probative.

      “Convergence of evidence”-You’re deluded. Two coincidences of a highly dubious nature do not equal proof or evidence, moreover, the evidence for evolution still trumps it. But I could explain two other things about those subjects: Human male takes less than half the time as his female partner to come to orgasm. Some women can’t orgasm through the missionary position. So that’s the angle/slant thing made into rubbish as well.

  79. phanchem says:

    Noticed Max’s comment on Lamarkanism. I always had a problem with that one. If Lamarkanism held true, Jewish men would no longer have to get circumsized, since they would have passed their acquired trait onward to their children. And no, don’t talk to me about dominant or recessive because of the wife’s genetic contribution; that would be compounding one idiocy with another…something which, however, seems to be done often in Creationist circles.

  80. Max says:

    Even if Lamarckism doesn’t explain biological evolution, it can still apply to cultural evolution and memes, and to evolutionary algorithms.

  81. Paulus says:

    Like Steve Norley I too hail from the Bristol area, in fact I live just three miles away from this weird place and pass the entrance every day on my way to work. Presumably God has told Mr. Bush not to be too upfront about the true nature of his establishment, because there is no indication at the entrance that this is anything other than a zoo farm aimed at children. Indeed, the officially sanctioned road signs pointing to this place at almost every junction within a three mile radius of it are identical in appearance to similar signs in the Clifton area pointing the way to Bristol Zoo, a place of proper education for young and old alike, and eminent in the field of rational zoological research.

    I’m strongly tempted to venture out one night and, in the true spirit of local graffiti artist Banksy, use a stencil and a can of black car enamel spray paint to print a Darwin Fish symbol on every one of the signs pointing to Noah’s Ark and see how long it takes for them to be replaced.

  82. Paulus says:

    P.S. Nice to know that you’ve visited my part of the world, Michael. Next time you’re passing, please feel free to drop in for a cup of tea, or a warm glass of beer if you prefer.

  83. sonic says:

    This is one of the reasons I don’t like Wikipedia too much-

    You quote from the article and it references ’81’
    But this is what the actual reference is to-

    “While doing a study to map the dust distribution of the entire Small Magellanic Cloud, her team captured a high-resolution infrared image of E0102, the exploded remnant of a once-massive star (20 times the size of our Sun) that went supernova about 1,000 years ago as observed from Earth.
    According to their calculations, announced earlier this month at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, the observable dust content of E0102 is only 4 percent of what the models predict. That’s an amount of dust roughly equal to the mass of all the planets in our solar system, whereas theory predicts it should be 200 to 2,000 times as much.
    Similarly, notes Stanimirovic, “observations of supernova remnants in the Milky Way show much less dust than expected.” …

    According to Ben Sugerman of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the object imaged by his team, Supernova 2003gd, “is quite literally the smoking gun.”
    Using both spectrographic images from the 8-meter Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and infrared images from the Spitzer Space Telescope, Sugerman’s team determined that 2003gd was producing at least 10 percent of the dust predicted by theory.
    Not exactly a resounding victory for the theory, on the face of it, but according to Sugerman, it’s a matter of how you interpret the observations.”

    Yes, it is a matter of how you interpret the observations.
    OK, I think my problem is not answered by observation yet- I’ve done more looking and I’ll just have to wait for more observations.
    Hubble telescope is cool, no?
    I can’t do the math to get an age for the Earth of 4000 years- I guess I’m not that smart. ;-)

  84. hoho says:

    Creationist literalists versus scientific literalists. Recall Chesterton whooped Clarence Darrow’s behind at Madison Square Garden in NYC, mainly because the argument shifted beyond straw men.

    • Wrong says:

      There’s no such thing as a “Scientific Literalist”. So speaking of strawmen, you just created one. Neither are there “Creationist Literalists”. There are Bible Literalists (Who believe everything in the Bible, even when it contradicts itself, is true) and Scientists, since that’s not open to interpretation, as it evolves to suit the best possible explanation. You can’t scientifically interpret science in any way but one, so the claims of literalist viewpoints are idiotic.

  85. Richard Alan says:

    Amusing article about the different aspects of dating techniques.

    Sorry to disappoint you beckiwithani, but there are plenty of creationists here in Spain – though few of them are fanatical as they but calmly regurgitate what the church and its schooling have fed them.

  86. onions says:

    Why would a god need to flood the earth to punish everyone? Just wave his hand and cause pain. Why would he need a boat to save animals in pairs? Just wave his hand and boom- the planet is good to go with many animals. Why would god need DNA or cells?- Just wave his hand and stuff just grows. When jesus dies, why does he need 3 whole days to bring him back when it only takes seven to make the entire universe.

    • Wrong says:

      Stop asking questions. Next thing you know, you’ll be thinking for yourself, and not blindly repeating the philosphy of illiterate shepherds and fishermen.

  87. Sarcastic Fringehead says:

    If it was good enough for Bronze Age nomadic Jews to believe, it ought to be good enough for you!

  88. Anthony Bush says:

    Dear Michael,
    I was surprised that when I spent an hour and a half showing you round here before we opened, you only listened, in order to ridicule!
    Can you answer these questions I asked you then?:
    where did the first life come from? Attenborough said “started in the sea”, Leroi said “crawled out of precambrian ooze” both on BBC Darwin series. Should I be skeptical? A theory built on this first complex life with its astonishing DNA, being formed by nothing in water or ooze, has to be a questionable start to a theory that gets even more unbelievable, the more the further life forms become. How did the new genetic information arise?

    Incidentally you misquoted me four times. But perhaps I am lucky.
    With best wishes
    Anthony Bush

    • Wrong says:

      Actually, what you’re talking about there is abiogenesis: How life came about. That’s completely unrelated to evolution. That just demonstrates the basic scientific illiteracy we’d expect.
      In fact, some, more rational than yourself, believe in evolution, but believe the process was caused by a God who set the thing in motion through the creation of natural laws. Some, even more rational, remain agnostic about what they’re unsure of. But either way, if you’d like to claim your position is rational, you’ll have to disprove the muslims and the jews, the hindus and the sikhs, and pretty much every other religion, before your claim would even start to look like a rational explanation.

      Moreover, we have adequate proof of evolution, such as the discovery (independant of the theory) of DNA, and the understanding of the genome. Moreover, evolution is visible in micro-organisms, such as diseases, and is used in medicine successfully every year to predict potential flu viruses for vaccines.

      On the subject of biogenesis, the concept of abiogenesis is gaining ground, given that self replicating reactions, and organic matter, have been shown the be capable of forming from inorganic matter. This suggests that the process may occur entirely on its own. Also, you could answer the obvious question: How did several large carnivours go without meat for 40 days, especially considering that they were somehow managed by a family of shepherds. And what of the poisonous reptiles? Surely those are far more reasonable explanations.

      If you don’t agree with abiogenesis, then you should remain agnostic about the issue, undecided. You can’t just say “God” and put in your favourite imaginary friend. That explanation isn’t a rational one at all. If you weren’t raised with God in mind, then you wouldn’t be interposing IT there.

      Also, citing a documentary: That’s not a primary source. Attenborough? Not a scientist, though a respected naturalist. You need to find sources which are actually scientific, rather than journalistic.

  89. Michael,

    You are an intellectual oasis in a land of superstition and emotionalism; I loved your book “Why People Believe Weird Things” you published a few years ago. But if I may offer a small point on which we disagree.

    You hammer with great enthusiasm when taking on fundamentalist brainwashing (like “Noah’s zoo”) and I applaud you for it; but you seem to pull your punches when approaching more “moderate” religious beliefs.

    Although religious practices seem to comfort people, is that any more reason to encourage them than to suggest the populace drink because IT feels good? You and I both have a background steeped in a former Christian faith; while some of the moral lessons from the Bible are great, they are sadly interspersed with irrational teaching, tremendous cruelty, and scientifically bogus claims. I’m sure you know this.

    You don’t have to be “saved” to know that good is preferable to evil. A god that would give four of his ten commandments cluttered with ritual is a god of human invention and not divine origin. Furthermore, a god that demands the slaughter of millions of animals and especially humans cannot be superior to “his” creation. “He” is a figment of wishful thinking.

    So…can we engage our opponents with gentleness and respect, but courage as well? Let’s call a spade what it is. I have to agree with Dawkins that replacing religion with simple human goodness is far superior to the waste of time, talent and treasure the church, the temple, and the mosque demands.

    Imagine a world without Islam and Judaism: pretty great. But of course I speak blasphemy. What a crock!


    • Wrong says:

      I’d agree, but the important thing is steps: If a large amount of people are religious (And they are), then rational, polite folk such as Dawkins, come across as offensive, and lose their ability to communicate with the believer. But if you criticise the fanatics, the fringe, the wackos, then you eventually make the unsavoury parts go away, and can concentrate on dealing with the moderates.

  90. colliebob says:

    Yes, Mr Bush, you should be sceptical. We all should. But the fact that we do not yet know precisely how life began does not justify positing a creator (or Creator even). The overwhelming evidence provided by physics, astronomy and many other branches of science in the last 150 years is that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old. I for one find it highly unlikely that hundreds of thousands of scientists and the results of innumerable experiments can all be wrong by such a large factor as creationists claim (with nothing to back up their claim other than ‘faith’). Over such an ungraspable period of time, even the most spectacularly improbable events such as the beginning of life become possible. I guess it comes down to this: What do you think the more probable:
    1) During the course of literally trillions of individual combinations of chemicals and ambient conditions, life arose spontaneously, then evolved over aeons to its present diversity (for which there is ample evidence) or
    2) Life was created by a supernatural being for whom there is no direct evidence other than hearsay based on hearsay based on hearsay ad infinitum?
    I know where I stand, and am comforted to find myself in eminently respectable company.

  91. Burt Hackett says:

    I set out to try to understand radio-metric dating. I am over 80 and always took for granted that radio metric dating was an absolute, like math.

    I still hold that view, but when I began to read various treatises and descriptions of radio metric science, I found that every other document was written debunking radio metric dating by a nut-cake creationist.

    Although, the creationist’s explanation of radiometric dating will probably make a scientist laugh, their arguments sound very convincing.

    If more than 50% believe in smelly Sheppard’s tales, a good book on radio metric dating that is understandable and digestible, step by step, at the highs school level is needed. Please respond.

    Burt Hackett

  92. Cary Snowden says:

    Any longer and you might have learned that the banana was specifically made so that we can hold it. And did you know that it’s color is designed to tip us off to it’s ripeness?

    Of course, I am talking about the modern banana, not the one that evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be a small apple-like pod.

    Is it really that hard to comprehend life evolving over billions of years? I am personally surprised we have only come this far in so long. Thinks about it: A BILLION YEARS! Times four or six. I can actually comprehend several cycles of intelligent evolution in that time period, and wouldn’t be surprised if we discovered some day that there was a civilization like ours a billion or two years ago. Of course this is just playful conjecture, but the time scale could certainly allow for it, in my opinion. Our current status is more than reasonable given the time.

  93. Iain Vernall says:

    The banana is not a convenience food for us in the UK. We would have to get across @4000 miles of ocean, climb @30 feet up a smooth tree, be there at the time of year when bananas are ripe and then travel all the way back again to the UK.

  94. Feralboy says:

    You could fill an entire ark with nothing but species of beetles.
    Then again, I might be straying into math again, which is probably the work of the devil.
    I’m reminded of the Far Side cartoon: “Well, so much for the unicorns. From now on, all carnivores will be confined to C deck!”

  95. zoaka says:

    You said my African traditional religion was pagan,idol worship,black magic. So i dumped it.

    I worked hard for 30 years to achieve your heaven, now, you junked it.
    The spirit of my ancestors called last night…”no seat for you in the circle of life, you have been taken by thier white lies.”

    Now, i will never have heaven or the company of my ancestors. Where will i go?

    • Wrong says:

      Fuck you. Seriously. Playing the sympathy card is worthy of nothing but derision.

      You were never going anywhere. Oblivion likely awaits you. Nothing. You’ll die, get put in a hole, and rot. Your consciousness will be gone as soon as you die, and you’ll cease to be. That’s about all that’s likely.

      Your ancestors? They’re wormfood. The Christians? They’re wormfood. Me? I’m going to be wormfood.

      Believing in nonsense on faith is not admirable, and belief does not generate an afterlife. I’m sorry if it makes you feel bad, but hey, now strip clubs and promiscuos sex, excessive drinking, partying, and general fun, are all ok.

  96. Maria Marques says:

    The global economic crisis looks “constructed” . Can Skeptics comment about it?

  97. Pete Walker ô¿ô says:

    Did Mr. Bush happen to mention which one of his family members was host to all the wonderful diseases (bacteria and viruses) that god, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, so kindly created for our benefit?

  98. Doug Fenner says:

    Mr. Bush asks a serious question, which deserves a serious answer. He asks how could life spontaneously form from dirt and water. That’s actually a very active field of research in biochemistry and related fields. Much of it has been worked out, and can be demonstrated in the laboratory. The right kinds of phospholipids will spontaneously form “bubbles” that look very much like membranes defining cells. Lots of other things have been worked out. I can remember from decades ago a Scientific American article that detailed what was known then, and so much was known that I could only remember a small fraction by the time I finished the article. There are so many steps, that while many individual tiny steps can be demonstrated, putting the whole thing together and creating life in the lab has not been done. But then you only have a few decades to do it in, instead of over 4 billion years.
    On the radioactive isotope dating, I’d just add that uranium is around even though it is radioactive and decays, because it has a very long half life. Thanks to the others for the good explanations.
    As for Noah, I always wondered how he managed to not only get kangaroos and koalas from Australia, but penguins and seals from Antarctica, and polar bears from the arctic, and all those animals and birds and such that live only in the Americas, which hadn’t been discovered yet. He must have had a lot of aquaria on board for all the fish from the Amazon, all the deep sea fish from miles down. Let’s not forget the invertebrates, jellyfish, corals, guinea worms, Bit tricky getting 2 of every species of bacteria, not to mention viruses. Of course you don’t actually need 2, one will do, but if you have a microscope and tweezers that small, might as well get 2. Would have been quite a slick trick to keep all of them alive, given that modern microbiologists have only figured out how to culture a small fraction of all the species.
    Humor is probably one of the better ways of dealing with people who are so far from rational, and yet at the same time pretending to be rational, and doing a good enough job of pretending to be rational that many people are taken in and sucker for it.
    If God created each species, why did he use the same design so many times? Chimp and human skeletons have all the same bones, you can recognize ribs, vertebrae, same bones in arms, legs, hands, feet, skull, earbones, the lot. Why all so near identical that it takes a specialist to be able to tell them apart? Why do Human and chimp share about 99% of all their genes, so many that their is speculation that a cross might be viable? And all mammals have ribs, and all vertebrates backbones, and on and on? Why do all living organisms use DNA as their genetic material, and even viruses which are not living all use it at least in part of the replication cycle? Why do all organisms have RNA, proteins, made of the same set of amino acids, and so on and so on? Why are all the molecules that could are identical but could be in either right handed or left handed versions, are all in the right handed version?? God could make them any way he/she wanted, was he/she too lazy to be creative and make them different ways? Lot easier to just realize they are so similar because they have a common ancestor and life only started once. Suddenly then a vast amount of information all makes sense and you don’t have to violate all kinds of data and logic to explain it.
    But then we’re wasting out breath for so many people, their blind faith in the literal interpretation of the bible will not allow any kind of data to disprove any of their ideas. Propositions are not testable, because they can’t be disproven, so it is not science, it is faith. Strangely, their belief that the bible is the word of God leads them to believe it is the word as actually spoken by God. Not something written by humans. Fallable humans. And written by God in King James English, though strangely there are different versions (Revised Standard, etc.). The fact that there are no surviving copies of the new testament in the language that Jesus would have spoken (Aramaic), that the oldest copy is in Greek and therefore a translation and not God’s words (since the Son of God spoke Aramaic instead of Greek, even if he had spoken Hebrew it wouldn’t be Greek, they are very very different.)
    By the way, you don’t have to be an atheist to think evolution is a fact and Darwin’s theory is a very good explanation for it. Those that have a problem with Darwin’s theory are mostly fundamentalist Protestants, a tiny proportion of Christians worldwide. Even all protestants together are a small fraction of all Christians. And how about the Big Bang? Doesn’t that sound a lot like creation? There are plenty of people who have faith about the ultimate questions, and yet accept the findings of science.

  99. Hilary Minor says:

    Bless Mr Bush’s cotton socks! He is in the great tradition of Great British Loony and, as such, he’s probably quite loveable. It’s when amiable looney-ism becomes bellowing fanaticism that it becomes worrying.

  100. Sink The Ark says:

    This place has been getting under my skin for sometime.

    Creationism is bad enough, but to setup a zoo and cash in on the sound educational reputation that zoos have, with the explicit aim of preaching creationism, is wrong.

    Please sign my petition on the number 10 website – link from here: And maybe send a couple of letters to the government bodies linked to the site?

    Thank you.

    Here is a quote from the proprietor of the zoo “From the outside, our farm is not overtly Christian. But, from the inside, we are very strongly Christian. I am a Creationist, and we see the farm as a mission station to give people scientific permission to believe in God”

  101. Sparky says:

    LOL at “Sink The Ark”
    i am not christian…infact far from it….but seriously noahs ark zoo farm and Mr.Bush provide an excellent zoo…how many other zoos within a 100mile radius of bristol and cardif have the animals that they do, and allow you to interact with them as they do.
    If they believe in christianity then fine…it aint gunna effect me while im their.
    You got be pretty lonely and sad if its annoying you so much that you have “tried” to set up a petition.
    Grow up, sod off and go get a life!

    • Wrong says:

      You’re reading the comments of a skeptical website, that’d make you just as sad and lonely as he is.

      A zoo is fine (Well, not to me, but that’s my personal view) but indoctrination is not. How would you like it if I were to set up a fundamentalist Islamic mosque, with tendancies towards matyrdom in your neighbourhood, and call it a childcare centre, to lure the kids in and indoctrinate them? It’s the same nonsense. A childcare centre, a zoo, they’re not the objectionable part. The objectionable part is in hiding the nonsense beneath a useful exterior to confuse people trying to learn.

  102. deon says:

    I believe to be being victim of privacy invasion and to be being monitored in my proper house and residence, have been white and victim on the part of my proper father, familiar, of groups religious, commercial employees, neighbors, strangers and known other people’s. Where this already came intervined since my infancy in moral abuses, the such bulling, and violence domesticates against me and my mother. Moreover I believe that in this monitoramento this being displayed my integrity, privacy, privacy in sites of video blog, blogs, sites of relationship among others being commercializing photos, videos of my privacy and privacy in the net on my father, familiar, neighboring and similar with intention to defame me, to discredit. Sabe if there what they will be editing and telling on my person. Moreover it has provoked me and defied with religious cânticos beyond humiliating me and execrar making a species of psychological terrorism so that I fall in error to be as it and to be able agrediz it, an aggressor frustrated beyond me to humiliate with foods of forms and “well suggestive” names being dopando me during my sleep and in my food. It imagines to be being filmed and monitored 24 hours and the front of its house being white of interventions with cellular people of and cars constantly pulling out with high sound and well suggestive musics. People children and young passing in front of house laughing, come of a next college, some with cellular and some tie touching the bell of its house so that they can have fun itself.
    Because today it is thus you cannot say not and to have sense I criticize You he is obliged and she has to accept, as she has times behind where people were hunted pilhadas humiliated and deceased as Joana the insane person Copérnico Galileu among others and with all this available technology for ones and does not stop another one and everything with its aid and contribution after all you is part, therefore this day the day contributing so that the same ones continue controlling and carrying through subversive acts to the bel pleasure. Welcome to the parents most festive and bulimico of the world, in moral siege where you contribute people to be able to have the right to humiliate others without conditions and its religions because and which the best form of if using of the religion, therefore everything can and who will be against
    Sponsoring, exploring and briding religious sites of children, communities, but they do not give I credit to confidence nor attention to this insane person therefore is this that they want therefore who with attitude capacity and discernment has the courage and that one that if to relate mainly commercially with me favoring and giving to chance anger to finish as I dead or disabled financially.
    Somebody imagines gaining money with its image and privacy and privacy in site of teles, mainly for cellular, where these contents can be postados all. Presenting me with fakes as drugged, pirado, wild.
    sites as Safernet that would have to create criteria and mechanisms to fight these you practise, seem to make seen thick how much to this clearly therefore if it had another one as competition to not only contribute and to compete but to an option and sponsored by the government, justice and empresariado that is the same ones that it has conditions of if using improperly. E does not stop few in my opinion
    Thus is also the courts with judges above of any suspicion, if ha in its viscera and too much sectors the pedofilia, that will say cases of servers making ciberbulling, moral siege and everything this with a “total well impartial justice” is not same, if using of sites of relationship of children and religion everything to be transparent therefore will have been apanhados as a great trick and repassing of hand in hand this content commercialized for diverse ways it is in one barraquinha of fair ties directly in the net
    Imagines a quarter all a city parents the government companies and “professionals” sponsoring and contributing for this, these are not alone small commercial employees e of the locality and region, but yes great corporations, governmental and not governmental institutions mainly nourishing of drinks that will be seen in these postados videos suggesting as an advertising of TV or cinema as in that film the “world of Truman” staged by Jim Carrey, you unite if you it knew of one of these companies this involved which would be its behavior, you it would buy its viços products or it acquired its being. Therefore it continues contributing giving space to be able and time – “teamses is money” or you is capable and would have the ousadia attitude and courage to start mainly developing and giving to chance of work and income online, through cellular or the computer as well as these “such professionals” very well cysts and chosen teams and because not if these can because we could not making a net only e helping ones to the others, giving conditions of auto-sustentabilidade freedom as “to ciberbulling-hunter them”.
    E I do not know because but lately I have seen the many substances in the TV on the subject, therefore my father has familiar that they work in this branch I believe and I find to have fond ties these supreme companies and professionals of communication, therefore who more good to use of resources and mechanisms of espionage and media beyond production as well as nets Intranet, which the criteria and its evaluation as to know, if this content is available only to the same ones mainly for its advertiser as well as and while you contribute investing with its consumption for same instead of people the victims, therefore it is better to buy and to stimulate the economy of these of what who suffers the augury, since culture of the fields to it I deal of the cities making a true niche of victims, where they would have commercial and business-oriented chances. Thus we would have more possibility and force to fight for people as I and many others without conditions paupérrimas, where it could have virtual groups or real going it ties they stops helping them there but as to know if this is same a victim!
    In who to believe a celebrity or a stranger and insane person in who would bet who this with the reason and saying the truth and which truths. It makes as ha centuries behind when great libertarians and “heretical” thinkers and insane people were estripados in squares publish or continue contributing for that they say “the truth is there it are”, sponsoring and sponsored for the governments, therefore these are abetters as in that game “of the mount of three letters” or”… where everything is hidden the existing small ball… “in the great centers of the great world-wide cities to inform that it exists an insane person or revolutionary and lunatic, as presented in some books of espionage of the old cold war where commercial, films, drawings they contained messages subliminares and private suggesting and informing the espionage act it dates and place where ha an insane person. Mainly if intercomunicando in codes in the net wild for new meat, but who this binding is not same. As much that these come if putting into motion if joining is enough to bind the TV, therefore thus it is more easy after all as and who better to know and to control the life in any organisms if religious them and all does not have somebody for close. You he would be fan of one of these celebrities, artists and celebrities making “vierniceiges”, developing parties events and conventions freeing fogos and commemorating if amusing its costs. Emitting you alert after all to discredit of you who better of what the same ones.
    Moreover it tries to imagine if she was you to suffer “some incident” and had to go for some soon attendance I medicate hospital and was in the hand of these beings, therefore these are in all the places and as the majority is made here and for organizations and religious agencies managed or on already it saw…

    this text was translator by site
    from portuguese from Brasil by English

  103. Marianne says:

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for writing this – a friend just pointed me to your entry via Facebook.

    I remember hearing about this place sometime ago, I saw some photos that people had taken of the ‘information’ on display and… well, shocking.

    I’m thinking it might be time to really try and do something about this establishment, considering this news from yesterday

    That a council has further legitimised it by awarding it for its ‘educational achievements’ is astounding.

    I’m fairly sure there may be a case regarding animal welfare as well; someone’s already mentioned the ostrich, but on looking through various visitor accounts it seems there are many problems.
    Not surprising, if someone doesn’t accept evolution, that they’re unlikely to know how to properly care for a wide variety of species outside of their natural habitat.

    I really feel like there must be some channels to go through to really get a ball rolling here – in co-ordination with the BHA for example.

    Please do look me up on twitter or drop me an email (and anyone else, especially local residents) if interested.